So you think you’ve got problems because you’re adopted and the state won’t let you have your own original birth certificate? Imagine the serious bummer for someone who reaches the Gates of Heaven only to be turned away by St. Peter personally due to a lack of a “spiritual birth certificate.”

You think I jest? Billy Graham’s father-in-law, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, published just such a scenario in the April 1962 issue of
The Presbyterian Journal.

A man had a dream and found himself at the portals of Heaven. When he demanded admission, search was made and the reply came back: “The rolls of Heaven have been searched and there is no record of your birth.”

Perhaps it was destroyed by that fire back in 1937.

Dr. Bell, unfortunately, doesn’t mention if the Devil requires an unspiritual birth certificate or even a ratty electric bill to enter his domain. We suspect not. He’ll take anybody. Hitler, Caligula, Franklin Roosevelt, Lee Atwater, Bessie Bernard, Bastardette’s high school typing teacher, and no doubt numerous and assorted adoptees all must be taking High Tea every afternoon with their Master who doesn’t have the sense to Just Say No!

So, forget adoptee rights if you want to enjoy any semblance of comfort in the afterlife! Forget your obsessive hunt for truth–or at least your biological family. Forget about your birth certificate that some pinch-faced Grundy has stolen from you for your own protection. It doesn’t matter. In fact, if you are to trust the word of some of our zanier Christophiles you’re better off without it anyway. According to them, birth certificates (for everybody, not just you) are the documented proof that your parents sold you–not to that evil adopter and adoptress or to the adoption agency or to a sweat shop in the Bronx–but to Satan and his “beast system”–aka the state–from which there is no “patriot remedy” or escape.

Bastardette, recognizes, however, that most adoptees actually enjoy living in the beast system. The beast’s alluring siren of the original birth certificate that only adoptees can hear, gives us in theory an identity rooted beyond the adoption agency floor.

For those unwilling or unable to undergo identity recovery via original birth certificates, however, one need go no farther than Dr. Bell and his churchy descendants for the answer: the official spiritual birth certificate.

Real ID here I come!

Spiritual birth certificates are part of the current evangelical Christian culture of which adoption plays a vital role. After all, the clean-slate provided by adoption–particularly but not limited to closed-signed-sealed-and-hidden-adoption– closely parallels, psychologically and narratively, the Christian born again experience with its New Being in Christ scenario, except in this case you don’t lose your name, your heritage, or your family–usually. Gratefulness in both, however, is expected. While in the past people seemed to be happy enough in their new personal relationship with Christ without some outward validation, consumer-driven born agains now need something to prove it. And what better proof is there than an official piece of paper–a receipt–a sort of an amended birth certificate for the Jesus adopted..

Thus comes the downloadable spiritual birth certificate–or for the less technically inclined, a mail order cert.

While SBC issuers are quick to point out that a certificate is not necessary to get into Heaven, one gets the queasy feeling–especially if you’re adopted and accustomed to arcane legalisms–that it sure would help. After all, without official certification from a higher authority one’s existence and (excuse me)legitimacy are in doubt.

Just like government-issued birth certificates, SBCs vary in language and information required, but all of them document the day and time of the re-birth through Jesus Christ, and include the signature of the re-born. Kinda like your original birth certificate–only different. Most read like 12 Step Programs.

HostLyric, a self-described “twenty-first century publishing company” offers the quick and dirty SBC: “Whereas I have realized the hideousness of my own sins and my powerless to undo them…I hereby ask him to wipe my slate clean of all wrongdoing.” At the bottom you’ll find a promise to make a U-turn into righteousness.

Praying Scriptures offers a downloadable SBC card in which the recipient “gives Jesus control of my life.”

Bethany Student Ministries of LaCrosse, WI, connected to the Evangelical Free Church of America, offers an SBC with the ominous preface: “If you were to die tonight, how sure are you that you would spend eternity with God?” followed by a check-off scale between 0 and 100%, along with the suggested memory verse 1 John 5:11-12.

The Lighthouse Baptist Church of Greater York, PA (though it’s located in Dover) offers the Safe Haven option–you can remain anonymous. Just “print it out for your records and as a reminder.”

Certificates and cards are available by mail order especially for Bible School teachers or missionaries in Ethiopia who need to impress upon their captive audiences the gravity of the experience.

And then there’s the Spiritual Birth Certificate Poem at GEM Ministry. You do not want to miss this!

If the above websites tend to make you feel like a claustrophobic kindergartener, but you still seek spiritual birth certification with less judgment, then check out the New Wine E-Church (warning! severe midi music!) operated by “Pastor Julz.” Pastor Julz, refers to herself as “your Wine Master,” and calls herself a reconciled gay Christian. According to her webpage she holds a Master of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a former Assemblies of God minister. New Wine’s downloadable spiritual birth certificate (Bastardette’s favorite) features a cute grapevine boarder with a bunch of grapes hanging directly above a “NEW BIRTH CERTIFICATE” banner. One caveat: your name is changed to “Child of G-d”

But what happens to your old birth certificate–the one that let you drink, fornicate, and vote for Bill Clinton–twice–without a shred of guilt? Does NCFA lock it up in God’s big vault in the sky? If you carve 666 into your forehead and take up with Neal Horsley’s mule, can you get it back? Probably not.

Anybody who wants to seriously undermine the sealed records system had better be prepared to do battle with adoption theocrats and their closed culture of godly identity erasure. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait for, to take a page from Joe Hill, our pie in the sky when we die.


  1. This is what I believe:
    That I am I.
    That my soul is a dark forest.
    That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest.
    That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.
    That I must have the courage to let them come and go.
    That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.
    There is my creed.

    D.H. Lawrence

  2. I agree with you right to free speech and your RIGHT to your OBC. I deserve mine as well. What offends me slightly is the anti-Christian dogma I am finding in some of your posts. I agree that there is much hypocrisy hiding behind the broad term of “Christianity” but those of us who are Christians should not all be condemned as zany just as all adoptees shouldn’t be painted as “children.”

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